Modi concludes Gujarat campaign with ‘vikas’ narrative, flies from Sabarmati in a seaplane

With the second phase of Gujarat Elections due on December 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded the election campaign by visiting the Ambaji Mandir in Banaskantha district via a seaplane. The single-engine Quest Kodiak airplane, that Modi travelled through on December 12, is the first seaplane in India.

The flight that became the ultimate show of ‘vikas’ narrative of Modi government’s policies took around 36 minutes to reach Dharoi dam from Sabarmati riverfront. Operation of amphibian planes is part of central government’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) that is meant to boost connectivity with the unserved/underserved regions of the country in an affordable manner.

Like previous campaigns of the Prime Minister in Mehsana, Vadodara, and Panchmahal, where he talked about various dvelopment initiatives like Mudra Yojana and Startup India, Banaskantha visit also became a show of development agenda of the BJP government.

Flying over the Sabarmati though was the second option for the BJP after Gujarat Police disallowed the party to hold election rally in Ahmedabad, citing undue traffic jams. Both Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi were supposed to hold rallies in different parts of the city.

On his official twitter handle, PM posted, “Seaplane services can also be helpful during times of medical emergencies. Those needing even quicker access to medical care and those living in remote areas stand to gain a lot.”

Sources- NDTV, Financial Express

Jail for people selling bottled mineral water above the MRP

The new guideline by the central government to the Supreme Court of India states that the sale of mineral water higher than the maximum retail price (MRP) is an offence. Restaurants, hotels and multiplex owners will be fined or be jailed if they do not adhere to it.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs informed DNA that overpricing of packed water was against the Legal Metrology Act. This decision was made as an aftermath to the petition of the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI). Increase in price has led to loss in income as service tax or excise duty for the government.  Ram Vilas Paswan, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister told the media that this offence would also include packed soft drinks.

CNN News 18 reports that as per section 36 of the act, people caught selling bottled water at dearer prices could be fined anything between 25, 000 to one lakh. They could also be jailed. Brands such as Bisleri, Kinley and Aquafina are known for their quality. Additionally consumers pay more money than other regular brands. This often adds to the revenue of hotels and restaurants, and does not justify the need to overcharge.  This was decided in consideration with the complaints received from the Members of Parliament, consumer organizations and general public.

Sources- News18, DNA India

US warns its citizens against non-essential travel to Pakistan

The United States on Saturday issued an advisory warning its citizens against all non-essential travel to Pakistan, stating that foreign and indigenous group continue to pose a threat to them in the country.
In the warning issued after a gap of seven months, the Department of State stated the significant attacks occurred in Pakistan since May 2017 and said that terrorist organizations in the country have attacked both the government officials and civilians. Kidnapping and Assassination attempts are common in the country, it said.
The Travel Warning said that terrorists groups have frequently targeted US diplomats and diplomatic facilities in the past and continue to do so. The terrorists have often fell back on kidnapping for ransom.
The Department also stated that if the citizens decide to travel to Pakistan despite the travel warning, they should take measures to minimize trips to public areas, vary travel routes, increase security awareness and strengthen internal precautions.
The new Travel Warning replaces the warning issued on May 22, 2017.
The warning comes after the Chinese Embassy through its website on Friday warned its citizens in Pakistan to be on alert after receiving intelligence reports of possible attacks targeting Chinese.
Sources: NDTV, Scroll

US, Japan, South Korea start missile tracking exercises

The United States, Japan and South Korea have started joint missile tracking exercises as tensions with North Korea continue to increase over North Korea’s rapidly emerging weapons programs.

The two day drills kicked off on Monday and will conclude on December 12. It comes less than two weeks after North Korea launched its most advanced missile on 28th November.

According to Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s Defence Minister, the drills are being held in waters off the coast of Japan.

Japan’s Maritime self-Defence force said that this exercise is the sixth drill aimed in tracking and sharing information on ballistic missiles between the three nations. Two US ships along with each from two Asian countries are taking part in the drill. Both South Korea and Japan have security alliances with the United States.

The United States has frequently asked China and other countries to cut diplomatic and trade ties with North Korea as an international effort to squeeze Pyongyang’s illegal cash flows that could fund its weapons programs.

South Korea on Sunday said that it will impose a new unilateral sanctions on 20 institutions and a dozen individuals in North Korea that will prevent illegal funds flowing to North Korea.

Sources: The Hindu, The Japan Times 

Palestinian Stabs Israeli; Anti-Trump Protests rise in Beirut

An Israeli security guard was stabbed by a Palestinian at Jerusalem’s main bus station on December 10th, 2017. According to reports from Reuters, U.S President Donald Trump’s acknowledgement of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel lead to the eruption of violent protests in the areas surrounding the U.S Embassy in Beirut.  The police regarded this as a terrorist act and described the attacker as a 24-year-old man from the West Bank. CCTV footage revealed the attacker flashing out a knife when asked to take off his jacket during a security check outside the bus station. The attacker who tried to escape was grounded and arrested by the police, while the 35-year old victim is battling for life in a hospital. The doctors suggest that he is in a critical condition.

Street protests sparked in Palestine following Trump’s announcement on December 6th. The U.S policy on Jerusalem – the holy city of Jews, Christians and Muslims, angered the foreign ministers of the Arab region. The Arabs foreign ministers who had a meeting in Cairo warned Trump to retract his decision as they claim it to be a grave problem that might damage the peace in the middle eastern region.

Reports from Reuters stated that during the protests in Beirut, tear gas and water cannons was used by the Lebanese security forces to suppress the protesters. The mob was waving the Palestinian flag and set ablaze the U.S and Israeli flag near the U.S Embassy.


Sources: Reuters, ABC News

Medium intensity earthquake hits Jammu and Kashmir

Early this morning, a medium intensity earthquake measuring 4.5 Richter scale hit Jammu and Kashmir. As reported by The Hindu, National Seismology Center of Indian Meteorological Department stated that the earthquake occurred at 4.21 am on Monday, December 11, 2017. The tremors were felt in Leh and Thang. The depth of the earthquake as measured by them was 33 kilometers. The epicenter was detected at a distance of 125 kilometers from Khaplu. There had been no reports on loss of life or property. It can be estimated that since the earthquake was of medium intensity and had hit the state very early in the morning, no news of people panicking or getting scared was reported.

This area had experienced three earthquakes in the past one month and at least 15 earthquakes in the last one year. The Richter scale of these earthquakes varied from 4.4 to 5.1. Kashmir has a record of deadly earthquakes in which any lives had been lost and property worth lakhs of rupees had been destroyed. Keeping in mind the political unrest in the state, earthquake or any other natural disaster comes as an extra curse to the people there.

Sources- The Hindu, The Indian Express

Kashmir’s Handwara witnesses cross border firing again

Army and special operation force of Jammu and Kashmir police launched an operation in north Kashmir’s Unisoo village close to Handwara, around midnight, on Monday, December 11, 2017. The forces were informed that a group of militants had been hiding in one of the village houses. Around four in the morning that day, the militants opened fire and the army, who were zeroing on them, fired back. A defense spokesperson stated that the operation is still in progress and the army have also recovered a few weapons from the encounter.

As reported by the Indian Express, Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police, S P Vaid confirmed that three militants had been killed in the encounter. He also said that a 25-year-old common civilian named Mysra died during the skirmish between the forces and the militants. Handwara had been a victim of cross-border firing quiet a few number of times in the past few weeks.

Earlier this month three foreign militants had been killed in an encounter at Magam, while one of them got caught in the forests by the army. Kashmir remains hostile as the innocents’ bleed and sacrifice their life every other day.

Sources- India Today, The Indian Express